Intelligent Systems And Their Societies Walter Fritz

Make Alternate Plans


Intelligence is not something that is general. It is always higher or lower regarding a certain subject, regarding a set of related situations. So one way to increase our intelligence in a certain field is to gain experience in this field; to become involved in many situations in this field. Thus we gain experience, and from it we determine several possible responses or plans that are adequate for the situation. This can be for the composite situation or parts of it. But there have to be several proposals of response. How often have we observed persons, that look at a situation and immediately say: "Now here is what you have to do. . ." Following this the person details out a single plan of response. This is wrong. There is never only one way to deal with a situation. Considering only one course of response is another of the big errors that is usually made when thinking. A good artificial IS and medium and large business organizations always analyze quite a number of plans before they decide what to do. We should do the same in our daily life.

Well, how to we go about this. Possibly we have experienced a similar situation in the past. What did we do then? What were the results? Look for the ingredients that were in the situation and also what the most prominent effects of our response were; what were the undesired side effects.
What would be the other persons point of view. What are his/her objectives. How would the other person react to our action. (See also ethics) Always imagine what the result of our action (probably) is going to be, both immediately and in the long run.
While thinking or talking it over with friends, always use different words for different concepts, do not use the same word for different concepts, that creates confusion. Think only about the situation and your possible actions, do not stray to other subjects.
From our previous experience we select possible responses for the present situation. In looking for alternatives, it is best to use our own or somebody else's past experience. But sometimes reasoning is needed. It is easy to reason incorrectly, if possible, the results of reasoning should be checked against the environment, they should be tested.
Often reasoning fails because a concept (a word) used does not describe part of the present environment or describes it only incompletely.

If we do not seem to be able to find various responses, we make what is called a "brainstorm". See the page on:

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Value Analysis

or one of the many books on the subject or on value analysis / functional analysis /value engineering or see web links (Exterior link).

Maybe what we want to do is to create something, an object, a method or an organization. This could be something new, or an improvement on something existing. The way to do this is to make a functional analysis, to forget all that exists physically today and to define what exactly the function should be of this new object, method or organization. Knowing the function we can then look for ways for accomplishing this function as cheaply and easily as is possible. Again a good way to do this is by Value Analysis.

Maybe our objective is to resolve a "problem". A problem is something that previously worked well, but something changed; we are no longer satisfied. The problem can be a person, an organization or a machine. Kepner and Tregoe taught us, in a very good book titled "Problem Solving and Decision Analysis ", what to do with a problem. We have to look for that which changed, where we can observe the change, when it changed, what part changed. In other words we try to see the situation with as much detail as possible, and contrast it with a previous situation where this change was not noticeable. The contrast can also be with other persons or machines, where we do not observe the problem. Then we list all possible causes that could have produced the observed changes only, but no others (using our experience, our store of response rules). We verify by determining what other changes our presumed cause should have produced, but that we have not noted so far. Then we look for these changes. If we find them, we probably have the cause of the problem. As you can see the procedure is complicated but quite effective.

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Problem Solving

So we see that we should always elaborate various alternatives. If we have little time, this analysis will have to be very superficial and short. But if there is time, we should always "think before we act."
In our daily life we come across routine situations, where we have analyzed alternative responses in previous occasions, and we act immediately. Even so, occasionally, it is convenient to check if the reasons for selecting a certain alternative in the past, are still valid today.
If the problem is with a person, have a look at How to get him to do something (Enter for continuous reading, like a book)..


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Last Edited 3 July 2013 / Walter Fritz
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